Artist visualizes the effects of invisible magnetic fields


Short of putting a magnet in your finger, humans aren’t able to directly sense magnetic fields — but we can see some of the effects that they have on the world around us. Artist Carsten Nicolai has built an installation with an effect that anyone who’s owned a CRT display may be familiar with: as a magnet passes near its surface, the electrons that build the display’s picture are pushed around, warping the image into a psychedelic spectacle.

Nicolai has made this effect easy to see, so that observers can visualize how magnetic fields interact with the world. On a pair of CRT TV screens, the artist displays a series of straight white lines that viewers can watch morph as a magnet mounted to a pendulum is swung across them. “I like to…

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